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20th January 2021
Do you have an upcoming Newcastle University interview? Check out these tips by Jenni, a Medical Student who has been through the process and successfully secured an interview.

Written by Jenita Jona James 

Newcastle uses MMI interviews and this year, they have confirmed that they will be holding virtual panel interviews during the pandemic. The overall idea is the same, so here are some of the reasons that may have contributed to me getting an offer and studying here:

I Researched MMI Stations

Newcastle is very transparent about their interview process and this made it much easier for me to prepare for it. I looked at the theme of each of their 7 MMI stations, making sure I had 2-3 examples to talk about for each and wrote these down. These are:

  • Integrity (honesty and probity)
  • Communication
  • Empathy and self-awareness
  • Motivation and commitment to be a Doctor
  • Compatibility with the MBBS programme
  • Teamwork (including leadership)
  • Personal organisation
  • Persistence and resilience

There was also a role-play scenario. I made sure I knew how the course worked by looking at their website and why I was suited to it.

I did not know this beforehand but my first question was a two-minute icebreaker question that did not count and was just to help us get in the interview frame of mind. I felt this was a thoughtful idea and it impressed me as it really did help me relax.

I Practised, Practised, Practised

If you are someone who finds interviews difficult, you must practise as much as possible.

As I was already a student at Newcastle University at the time of the interview, I was able to get interview help through my course, and through the university careers service. If you are at school, your school should organise some interview practice sessions.

If not, try and find someone you are not overly familiar with in day-to-day life – like a family friend, a schoolteacher, or even your friend’s parents! This will take you out of your comfort zone a little more than just practising with your parents and/or siblings whom you know really well.

I would advise not learning the prepared answers off by heart as it comes off rather robotic. Just memorise the key points that you want to get across. You could also practise in front of a mirror.

I Familiarised Myself With Hot Topics

Hot topics are healthcare news topics that are extremely likely to crop up in interviews. These are issues such as the obesity crisis, Brexit and the NHS, A&E waiting times, as well as ethical topics such as the Dr. Bawa-Garba and Charlie Gard cases. I highly recommend looking through the Medic Portal’s Hot Topic pages on these as they helped me massively when I was preparing for my interviews.

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I Used The STARR Technique

Every single answer I gave used the STARR (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection) technique which stopped me from going off-track and waffling. Never forget to reflect on the event. Newcastle is very big on self-reflection and encourages you to continuously think about what went well as well as what went wrong and how you could have done things better.

I also looked at some key action verbs and used them in my interview. Instead of saying you gave a speech, say you delivered it. Instead of saying you led a team, say you oversaw, supervised or coordinated a team.

Talk in an active voice as opposed to passive and do not be afraid of saying ‘I’ a lot. This is your interview and you are selling yourself so you need to tell them how you specifically made a difference, even in a team. It shows confidence in your abilities and that you are able to recognise your achievements.

I Got In The Zone

This is something you should do for every interview. Get everything ready the night before, research where you need to go (or check the invite link) and get there or log on early.

Wear clothes that make you look professional in front of the interviewers, but they should also make you feel good and confident. I would also recommend having water with you. If virtual, ensure you have a good internet connection and familiarise yourself with the software in advance.

If you are applying to Newcastle Medical School, this freely available document is a must-read.

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